Tuesday, February 18, 2014

From Kansas, I'm Sorry

Dear Whole Entire Planet Earth,

Hello. My name is Kansas.

Until recently, I went almost entirely unnoticed by the rest of the you, just sitting here in the middle of fly-over country. Every spring, the winds swell up from Oklahoma and tumble down the Rockies to roll across my wheat fields and turn cartwheels in my tall grasses. Other than that, I don't see a lot in the way of tourism. No one thought much of me unless it was basketball season.

But lately I've been getting noticed. A discriminatory bill in the Kansas House of Reps last week was profiled on some major progressive media outlets around the country. I wish I could say that I loved the attention, but everyone was saying things like "What's the fucking matter with Kansas?" and "Shame on you, Kansas!" and I was like, hey man, I'm just sitting here, same as always. It's these assholes walking around the capitol that you should be shaming. What's the matter with them, not what's the matter with me!

The people of Kansas reacted swiftly. Petitions against the bill were drafted, representatives were flooded with calls and emails, protests were organized. A Facebook page opposing the bill garnered something like 40,000 likes in a single day. That may not sound like much to folks on the coast, but remember, this is the Heartland. For every one person who sounds off about something they don't agree with, there are ten more who are too polite to say anything.

Then the news broke that the Kansas Senate has no interest in taking up the bill in its current form, that it will likely die in committee there. A collective sigh of relief rose from many who opposed it. Whew! they said, Common sense prevailed in Kansas. But that's not really the deal. The real deal is that it's a gubernatorial election year in Kansas. The current governor is running for re-election and he was like Shitballs, people are really freaked out about this anti-gay policy stuff! Hello, Senate: this bill better not see the inside of my office...yet. Wait until after the election. 

There are several measures in the Kansas legislature right now that have Kansans equally disgusted. Let's see... there's HR 6043 urging that Congress Oppose the President's Climate Action Plan. This resolution was introduced by the state Committee on Environment and Energy. The chairman of that committee is Dennis Hedke, a geophysicist who contracts for the oil industry. Last year he authored a bill outlawing sustainable endeavors by any government or municipal agency in Kansas. The chair of the committee on environment is a climate change denier, and he wants to make certain that the oil and gas industries have full access in Kansas. I know. Gross, right?

There are others. So many others. Bills which seek to eliminate protections of my people and my natural resources; measures that will hurt my children, the impoverished, the elderly, the disabled; bills that would dismantle the balance of power by stripping the rights of the courts in Kansas, which are the last remaining treasure of a bygone era of moderate politics here.

The last four years has been an experiment in industry-funded Tea Party politics, and it has failed the people of Kansas. The latest piece of hate-laced, openly discriminatory legislation was met with a fury. Kansans woke from an exhausted state of disbelief and rallied against it. It's not dead yet. It is still open to amendment or revision, but it would be impossible to disguise its hateful intent now. Its opponents are vigilant. They are collectively stomping the bill into the ground in front of the capitol. Once buried, they'll spit on its grave and dance down to the bar.

I could not be more proud.

To the rest of the world, I'd like to issue a formal apology from the state of Kansas since my elected officials won't. I'm sorry if this feels like a hostile place. It's not. The latest bill preserving religious freedom made it sound as though Kansans have been hoping for a law that makes it legal for them to say that they won't sell a gay person a bowl of soup. I assure you that is not the case. The people here are kind. They're smart, mostly. Kansas has a long history of championing civil rights. Prejudice is not a pronounced mindset here, contrary to what our leaders would have you believe.

Currently in Kansas, our representatives...don't. They're not speaking for us. I can hear the dying breath of their radical, scripture-based agenda gasping out over the prairie. To the people of Kansas: thank you for leading the charge in protecting your fellow Kansans. Stay angry and remember to vote the bastards out so I can resume being ignored by the rest of the world. All this attention makes me uncomfortable. Love, Kansas.

Dear everyone, I'm sorry my House of Reps is stupid. I got you this kitten. I also got you a cake, but I ate it. I'm sorry about that, too. Sort of. Love, Kansas


  1. Dear Kansas,
    Thank you for reminding me I really do love you and that your strong winds will certainly someday blow away all the ugliness I see and feel in our beautiful state.

  2. Thank you Meg! You rock and so does Kansas! I am always impressed by your posts and gifts in communication!

  3. Thanks. I am still trying to figure out why no one ran against Congressman Yoder. I did ask my friends to write me in as a token. We moderate Kansans need to speak up and we need to vote them out.

    1. The $1 million + that was sitting in his war chest was a tiny little reason.......but now, in 2014, someone IS! She needs all the support she can get.....http://www.kellykultala.com/

  4. Meg - I love your blog & think you highlight important issues for our state. If I could offer any wisdom to those who read and then read down into the comments is to support those in office who are representing your values. It is easy to be critical of the Legislature as a whole unit, but there are champions there - - support them! Writing a letter to those who you oppose?, take a moment to say "thanks" to someone else. It goes a very long way. My hope is that the single issue in HB2453 has brought an awareness to Kansans and people will pay attention. "If you're not angry, you're not paying attention!"

    1. An excellent point! Noted, and thank you for the thoughtful feedback!

  5. The problem in Kansas is too few people take the time to stay informed about the candidates running for office and what they truly believe. When they get to the polls, those uninformed voters cast a straight Republican ballot. The days when that strategy worked (to some degree at least) are over. Finding a moderate Republican candidate who will stand up to the well-financed, right wing faction of the party is getting to be as elusive as finding Bigfoot. If we continue to elect officials without even a cursory investigation into their personal agendas, we will see more and more reprehensible legislation proposed in Topeka. BTW, loved the blog!

  6. Kansas needs to write another letter now that it is May and several more crazy pieces of legislation have been signed into law.